will we?

Will we come to the sacred Cross,

And kneel at Mary’s side?

To contemplate this gruesome loss,

Our Savior who has died.

In silence do we bear the pain,

Submit to greater love?

To know the Lamb who has been slain,

Was sent from heavn’ above.

With eyes like Mary, let us see,

That light and hope remain.

His body hung upon the tree,

Will come to life again.

Adapted from original post on December 2, 2016

Divine Mercy, Light & Blessings

Yesterday was Divine Mercy Sunday, so I would like to write about why this image and devotion is so wonderful and important!! At one time though, I found this representation of Jesus a little cheesy (especially the image of Divine Mercy with a blue background).  It wasn’t until I had a profound experience in Vilnius Lithuania in the convent of St. Faustina, that things changed… Here is a quick list of why this image is so important, and how I came to love it:

  1. Jesus revealed himself to St. Faustina (a polish nun) in 1931 and this image (see photo below) is the painted representation of his appearance. The image of Divine Mercy was not painted by St. Faustina herself, but she directed a painter to record each and every detail of what she had seen and experienced.image1.JPG
  2. This image is powerful. So many people, including myself, have had an encounter with Jesus through this image. In the convent house in Vilnius where St. Faustina received this image of Jesus and the Chaplet of Mercy (will explain soon), I had the blessing of saying my first chaplet. I wasn’t familiar with this devotion, but I felt a strong urge to pray the chaplet (using my little pamphlet with the prayers)  in front of the image (not original) . I cannot express the power and beauty of that moment, but I truly felt the gaze and presence of Jesus Christ in that room. It still brings tears to my eyes to write about the moment, which has touched me forever. I knew in that moment that Jesus is alive. I could not even look at the image, for the presence of Jesus was so strong. In an instant, I knew that this prayer can work miracles, and Jesus wants to encounter his people through this image.
  3. The Divine Mercy Chaplet is profound prayer that can be said on the beads of a rosary and is quite quick to pray. Given the fact that this prayer does not require a long time, I find it easy to stay focused on the words and their meaning. For more information about the chaplet please visit thedivinemercy.org
  4. In the image, Jesus has his hand outstretched to bless us. His left foot is one step ahead, showing us that he comes to meet us, wherever we are. The contrast of his bright and merciful heart against the pitch black background, indicates his victory over sin and death. The blue/white rays from his heart are the waters of Baptism that wash us clean from sin. The red rays are the blood that was poured out for us on the Cross, and the Body and Blood of Christ that we receive in the Eucharist. This image is packed with profound symbols of how Christ redeemed us on the Cross and how we can encounter the Risen, Merciful Christ- especially in the sacraments of the Church and through the Eucharist. 

Just writing about this image makes my heart happy! I hope that these little bits of information have helped you understand more about the image of Divine Mercy and the Chaplet. If you have other stories or facts to share, please do! There is waaaay more to be said about this devotion, but I wanted to keep things short ish. I hope and sincerely pray that you (through this devotion or another) come closer to Jesus and his merciful heart. It is burning for you. It is burning for all of mankind. He wants to come to us today, and remind us that his love for us is real. It can change our lives and heal our hearts.

 

Jesus I Trust In You

 

Gardener with a twist.

Happy Easter Everyone!

After a beautiful Easter Triduum, way too many Cadbury Mini Eggs, and a few days away (well mostly away) from the internet, I want to respond to the Gospel reading from yesterday. I find this reading extremely powerful, and it reveals so much about our identity as humans, and God’s plan of love. Let me just quickly quote a few verses from Scripture where Mary Magdalene is weeping at the tomb and encounters two angels who ask:

“They said, “Woman, why are you weeping?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she replied, and I don’t know where they have put him”. As she said this she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, though she did not recognise him. Jesus said, “Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?” Supposing him be the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and remove him”. Jesus said, “Mary!” She knew him then and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbuni!”- which means Master”- John 20:13-16

 

Talk about confusion at the tomb! Mary comes to grieve the loss of Jesus, only to find his body missing and two angels instead. To top it off, she encounters the gardener who also asks the same question as the angels, “Woman why are you weeping?”. If that was me, I would be getting pretty annoyed that everyone was avoiding the fact that Jesus’ body was missing!

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“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? “- 1 Corinthians 15:55

It isn’t until the gardener says, “Mary”, that she “knew him” (verse 16). Jesus reveals himself to her, by calling her name. In this simple and intimate moment, Mary is overwhelmed by the love and presence of her Master and Saviour. It was not only her name that he knew, but her whole heart. Though physically changed, the heart and power, love and mercy of God, reveal itself to Mary through the Risen Christ.

Jesus knows us, like he knew Mary. This isn’t just a heartwarming story about Mary encountering her Master. This is a story that is meant to mirror our encounter with the Risen Christ.

Very often, Jesus comes to us in unexpected ways. Perhaps we are looking for him in the wrong tomb. Who are the gardeners in our own lives? Where and through whom, does Jesus want to reveal himself to us? Why are we still weeping?

The time for mourning, the time for hopelessness, the time for condemnation is over. Jesus Christ truly conquered and defeated death and sin. This gives us every reason to celebrate. Even in the midst of suffering, pain and darkness. Mary Magdalene could rejoice that the Risen Christ, by calling her name, knew the depths of her heart. He had not abandoned or forsaken her, but rather redeemed her, and all of humankind from sin and death. Let us celebrate this great truth today, with joy!

 

 

 

Chained to our Choice.

In light of the recent abortion laws passed in New York, I find myself struggling with how to react. With an angry, devastated, and confused heart, I bring my prayers to the Lord and his Blessed Mother- asking that they change the hearts of stone, into hearts of flesh.

 

We’re free to choose, yet

Chained to our choices.

Nothing to loose, but

Can’t shake the voices.

With pink lights aglow,

The papers all signed,

Smiles on their faces,

 To kill humankind.

Does freedom now reign,

In body and soul?

Women empowered,

And made to be whole?

Our hearts are aching,

So we ask and pray,

That your will be done,

And all find their way.

 

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Come to the Cross

gold and black crucifix

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

“By the light of faith then, rise above every sort of selfish love. And to attain the most perfect love, as I’ve told you before, set before your mind’s eye Christ crucified and the indescribable charity he has demonstrated for you by shedding his blood with such blazing love” – St. Catherine of Siena

Today the Church celebrates the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, and what an important feast this is! Its funny, today I was standing in line at the pharmacy and the pharmacist was wearing a crucifix necklace. I mean #1- I hardly ever see people wearing such a bold and beautiful statement of faith (which inspired me to wear mine again!)  and # 2- so great to have this little wink from Jesus on His great feast day!

In the reflection today in the Magnificat, its a short excerpt from St. Catherine of Siena (which I quoted above) and she goes on to say, ” This must be your study: to love God in truth and your neighbour as yourself; to be humble and obedient; patiently to suffer pain, hurt, disdain, and abuse...In times of struggle and weariness, run with this light of holy faith to embrace the most holy cross, and there put your hope confidently in the Blood of Christ crucified…”  

I find this text so life-giving. Its a call to receive and share love in the world. It’s a reminder that although we feel pain, grief and suffering, its shall not pull us down. The cross says one thing; I love you. This love is so real and raw. It is not a fairytale love that sugar coats life. It is not a love that eliminates suffering. But it is a love that can heal our souls. It is a love that can comfort our hearts. It is a love that would conquer death and sin. Jesus on the cross is love. He loves us.

The Lord invites us to give back this kind of love to our neighbour. To endure hardship, to forgive, to be merciful, to die to our selves. Surely not from our own strength, but from the hope and strength of the holy cross of Christ.

I think todays feast is simply an invitation: to receive the love which was poured forth from the cross, and to let it transform us! That is my sincere hope for you and me.

God bless !

what a gift it is

So I was getting into a blogging slump after neglecting this page for the past few months. I’m sure I will publish another blog soon about the many adventures, joys and challenges of moving continents, learning a new language, getting married and adapting to a whole new culture. But that is for another day.

Yesterday in mass, the priest said something that struck me deeply. It was one of those words-to-heart moments, where I desperately wanted a pen and paper to capture the truth of his words, but also the eloquence with which he spoke.

But since I didn’t want to look like a news reporter in the second pew, scratching down the whole homily (although I probably would have done it… I just didnt have paper),  I asked the Holy Spirit instead to help me remeber later.

This prayer came true, although I will never fully capture the beauty of his homily that Sunday. But I will do my best to relay the message and how it spoke to my heart. He was speaking about judgment, death and the final things as they are called in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Father spoke about final judgment before God. He wanted to clear up a few misconceptions about the word judgment. He said, ” God isn’t like Donald Trump, who gives you a thumbs up or thumbs down into heaven or not” (!!). Judgment is not about being liked or disliked by God. God is love (1 John 4:8). God is only capable of love, so there is no way he can just unlike you or hold a grudge against you for all time. That would completly contradict his nature, and who He is. Father went on to say that when we die, and we stand before God, we are standing before truth itself. God isn’t something we can fully grasp. He is not bound by time or space, but He is a presence, and he is thee Divine. We, are not divine. We are poor and weak humans. I mean, if we weren’t sinners, we wouldn’t need God. So our weakness is not totally terrible, but rather it helps us find a complete dependence upon our Heavenly Father (our Dad, Pops, Papa). So standing before God after we die, and seeing own unworthiness before our Father, is judgment. It makes sense. If we look at the sun for too long, we have to turn away, squint, or groan a little because it pierces our eyes. It is too strong, and too bright for us to fully observe. How much more is the brightness of our Eternal Father ( Beatific Vision) going to shine? If He is love, truth, justice, kindness, honesty and mercy itself, and we poor sinners stand in front of  Him, we cannot hide our sins any longer. I know that I, and most of us, try to hide the dark areas of our heart. It is uncomfortable to acknowledge them. After death, in front of our Heavenly Father, we can’t ‘play that game anymore’ as the priest so nicely put it.

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So justice with the eyes of faith isn’t limited to Judge Judy, Donald Trump or harsh penalties. Rather, its simply seeing ourselves for the first time, as God sees us. Realizing the areas that we chose to serve ourselves, rather than God and our neighbor. God already sees and knows our sins. He knows us far better then we know ourselves. So its not a surprise to God, but perhaps it will be a surprise to us.

The really wonderful news, is that we have the rest of our lifetime to work on seeing our hearts, minds, and souls, as God does. Through the eyes of truth and mercy. God doesn’t want us to feel trapped in the darkness of our sin. He did not intend a life of bondage for us. Although life has its many challenges and we have our crosses to carry (habitual sins, addictions, broken families, physical and mental illness etc), we are capable of conforming our hearts to His. This is possible because God sent his Son Jesus to show us the way. That is why in John 14:6 Jesus says, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me”. So yes, judgment is the full realization of our sins and our failings, but it’s also being looked at with the merciful eyes of the Trinity; Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. We must always keep justice and mercy together.

 

This homily on death and judment has inspired me to continue pursuing a life of virtue and prayer. I fail in this area so many times, but I am comforted to know I serve a merciful Father. When I stand before God, when my earthly life has ended, I want to present him a heart that was honestly trying. A heart that let Christ in. A heart that allowed Jesus to reign and conquer those spaces of darkness. A heart that kept repenting, desiring and striving for holiness. I really think thats why God gave us the saints, his Holy Mother and the Church. He has given us the tools, the role models and the means to walk this path in faith. What a gift it is.

 

It’s okay, if your not okay

Whilst reflecting upon my blog (which I have severely neglected these past few months), it dawned on me that I avoid writing on any topics which are uncomfortable, challenging, dark, painful or difficult. This is not because my life is exempt from these circumstances, but rather because I choose to focus more on the positive. I make a conscious effort to dwell on truths which are uplifting, life-giving, joyful and beautiful (there might be a theme to that one…!). On a whole, I would say that this motivation for writing is great. While these blog posts leave me feeling happy and my readers happy, I feel the need to acknowledge more of our human experience; the suffering, the searching, the persevering, the stretching/growing, the questioning, the adapting, the hoping. I think it’s about searching for beauty in the darkness, despair and deep waters.

The death of my Grandma this summer has played a huge part in how I look at loss, sadness and darkness. A few weeks before she died, my parents brought her to live with us at home. Home care nurses would visit each day, administer her medications and support our family with medical care. In these days, my vivid, intelligent, sassy, lovable Grandma faded into a woman who was frail, weak and vulnerable. To watch this unfold was extremely painful for our family and for my Grandma herself. So many people choose to put the elderly away in a care home or consider euthanasia, because it’s easier.  Death is painful. Death hurts. Often our first reaction is to avoid these emotions and run in the opposite direction. I am guilty of this too; not wanting to feel anything that isn’t pleasant, that hurts, that pushes us out of our comfort zone, that causes us to truly feel something.

Although this experience of death was painful, it brought my family together. Strained relationships were healed, we were united in prayer, we came together to assist our Grandma with acts of love and service. I could honestly feel a deeper unity among my immediate and extended family (mini miracle). If we would have run away from the suffering, we would never had this opportunity to grow closer, grow in love and grow in respect of one another.

Life is hard. Sometimes you are handed a set of cards you didn’t bargain for. Lots of times, your put in positions that aren’t ideal, or leave you feeling completely unqualified. You might feel like your swimming upstream, treading water in a tsunami, walking in the night…

But:

We are not alone. We are children of a Father who loves us unconditionally. Jesus Christ came on the earth to be our Light. The picture below is the Divine Mercy Image- Jesus is surrounded by darkness (sin, despair, sadness, grief, death), but His merciful and loving heart is what radiates. On the cross, Jesus was killed for sins he did not commit. He died for the entire world, so that we might be redeemed in Him. The story does not end here. He did not leave humanity in the darkness. He was raised from the dead on the third day. He defeated death and conquered sin! This gives us every reason to rejoice. This is why we can find beauty in the sadness. This is why it’s okay to be not okay. Even if everything around us is failing, we have trust in He who is constant, merciful, loving, and lighting the path for our feet.

 

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     Divine Mercy Image: Jesus I Trust in You